Vesper

James Bond's preferred poison.

A true Bond-style cocktail, the Vesper was first mentioned by writer Ian Fleming in his 1953 novel, Casino Royale, as a drink order detailed by Bond himself. He specifies a strong formula of vodka, gin and Kina Lillet, “shaken, not stirred,” of course. Some historians have speculated that Bond slipped up in specifying Kina Lillet—a quinine-flavored white wine aperitif whose distillery also produced vermouth—intending for vermouth all along. The formula for Lillet has since changed, circa mid-1980s, making way for a new lighter, sweeter version with a lower dosage of quinine. As such, the classic Vesper specs may drown out the delicacy of Lillet’s contemporary recipe. To remedy, PUNCH suggests upping the proportion of Lillet. However, Cocchi Americano, a bittersweet Italian aperitivo, is probably the most accurate substitute for the Kina Lillet of days gone by. And though Bond said “shake,” we most definitely say, “stir.”

Photo originally published in Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, copyright © 2011. Photo by Ed Anderson © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Ingredients

Serving: 1

  • 3 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 - 3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc (or 1/2 ounce Cocchi Americano)

Garnish: lemon peel

Directions
  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir well.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Editor's Note

The Vesper is an extremely dry (and heady) cocktail despite Bond’s addition of Lillet. He may have recommended shaking it, but please, do stir. It will maintain the silky texture of an all-spirits drink.

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